When is it time to move into an assisted living environment? Only the senior, family members, and the doctors should have this input. In many cases, the planned move can be put off through implementing various home services and working together as a team.
Eventually however, even the most aggressive home service package may not fit the entire situation. All too often, people end up making hasty decisions and end up with the wrong one. Everyone that lives long enough will have to make this decision and so therefore, it is quite reasonable to start checking ahead of time. Here are some questions to get you on your way.
Is assisted living suitable? Call or visit assisted living facilities in your area to determine what services they provide and whether these services will be suitable for you or your loved one. The definition of ďassistanceĒ can be vastly different in various facilities. Similarly, the "age in place" promise at some assisted living facilities (meaning that you will not need to move as your needs increase) can have limits or strings attached. Find out about all the terms and conditions for staying in the residence of your choice.
Comparison shop. You need not accept a room or apartment in the first facility you see. You can take your time and find a new home you or your loved one will enjoy. Visit as many facilities as possible, keeping in mind the services required and how easily these can be provided. Your first visit should usually include a meeting with the administrator and a tour.
Do some research. Another source of information on assisted living facilities is your local long-term care ombudsman. Through this office, you can get basic information on any facilityís supportive living services such as meals, medication assistance and personal care, and on its social and recreational activities.
Visit more than once: Once you have created a short list of possible facilities, go back to visit each one at least once more. You may wish to visit at different times, such as mealtimes, evenings, and weekends. In this way you will get a true picture of the way the facility is run and determine whether the day-to-day atmosphere is pleasant. Be sure to speak informally to the staff, other residents, and/or their family members.
Ask a lot of questions. You are the client/buyer in this situation and should be as cautious as you are with any major purchase. Ask about prices and when and why your costs might increase. Do the rates quoted include every service you want? If not, how much will these extras cost? How is an assessment made of each resident's needs? How often is this assessment reviewed and compliance monitored? Also ask questions about refunds, transfers, and discharges. What if the residence were to close? What provisions exist to secure the rights of the people living there? If a resident is unhappy with some aspect of the facility, how are complaints handled?
Brochures and documentation: You want to make an informed choice, so get all the information you can. Check marketing materials used by the facility or its parent company as well as the resident contract agreement. Ask for survey information about the facility, which can usually be obtained by contacting your stateís long-term care ombudsman. Other government agencies may have consumer information brochures that can help you come up with appropriate questions to ask.
Remember, the residence contract should formalize all the agreements and promises made to you. Be sure you read it through carefully before you sign it. Consider having an attorney who specializes in seniorsí issues review the contract, especially if you find any part of it confusing or ambiguous.
Preparation is key
What will it cost? You probably know that assisted living is often expensive: basic rates often exceed $1,000 a month and depending on what services you require, monthly rates can reach $4,000. Get all the information you need to compare each facilityís charges for the care you need now and what you might need later on.
Can you afford it? Decide early on what you will be able to afford and plan accordingly. Will your adult children be able to help you finance your long-term needs? They may wish to discuss this aspect among themselves.
When an elderly person moves to an assisted living residence, it is often because their adult children have suggested the time has come to do so; and they are often involved in choosing the seniorís new home. However, adult children should avoid making the final choice of residence for the senior. They should keep in mind that the seniorís comfort, interests, needs and wishes, and not their own convenience, must take precedence.
No matter how pleasant the environment and no matter the efforts made to preserve the seniorís autonomy and dignity, moving into an assisted living facility can be traumatic.